Your new electric choices

Shopping for Electricity in California

Since early 1998, most Californians can choose the company they buy electricity from. This fact sheet contains information about competitive electric service providers and contains tips on how to choose a provider, reasons for switching, and changes in your electric bill.

Your new electric choices

Publication Series

  • This publication is not currently associated with any training series.

Download PDF

No Download Available


  • Web Version Only

Languages Available

Table of Contents

Note: Last revision 1999. Use this information as a general guide only; consult with a local consumer group for laws specific to your state.

Let's go shopping

Did you know that you can now go shopping for electricity?

Since early 1998, most Californians can choose the company they buy electricity from. If your electricity is provided by Bear Valley Electric, Kirkwood Gas & Electric, PacifiCorp, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sierra Pacific Power or Southern California Edison (SCE), you can now shop around for electricity.

New companies, called electric service providers, have entered the marketplace. They can purchase your electricity for you, but utilities such as PG&E, SDG&E and SCE will still deliver your power, be responsible for service and repairs and make sure you receive a low-income or medical discount on your service if you are eligible.

Why switch?

When people learn that they can choose another company to supply their electric power, many ask if it's worth it to switch.

Here are some reasons you might want to buy your electricity from a new company:

To save money: Some electric service providers offer a discount on the cost of electricity.

To help the environment: Traditionally, most electric power has been generated using non-renewable resources like coal and oil. These energy sources can pollute the environment. Many new electric service providers offer green power generated by renewable resources, such as the sun, wind or steam from the earth. But green power currently costs more-sometimes a lot more.

To choose your electric supplier.

For decades utilities, including PG&E, SDG&E and SCE, have had the sole right to sell electricity and deliver that power to your home or business. Now you havechoices of who purchases your electricity supply.

Changes in your bill

All companies selling and delivering electric power now provide expanded billing information. Your bill shows you all the different charges that are part of the overall price you pay for electricity and its delivery to your home.

Your electric charges are billed by the kiloWatt hour rate (¢/kWh). This is the price you pay for an hour's worth of electricity.

Look on your bill for the electric energy charge. Currently, this is the only portion of your residential electric bill that is open to competition.

Now most Californians receive a 10% rate reduction on their electric bills. Although this rate reduction will be phased out in March, 2002, competition is expected to further reduce rates after that time.

Your consumer rights

California law gives electric customers the following protections:

  • Three days to change your mind. If you sign a contract to switch to a new electric service provider, you may cancel the contract within three days of signing it.
  • Electric service providers must have your permission to switch your service. Your decision to change providers must be confirmed by an independent third party.
  • Companies must provide you with written notice of price, terms and conditions.
  • All competitive electric service providers must register with the California Public Utilities Commission.
  • Companies are required to use a uniform Power Content Label to disclose the fuel sources and technologies used to create the electricity they sell.

  • If you don't want receive sales calls from electric service providers, you can write to the California Public Utilities Commission and ask that your name be put on its "Don't Call Me" list. (See address in next section.)

  • Your customer and billing information is confidential.

  • The California Public Utilities Commission will resolve complaints against electric service providers and Bear Valley Electric, Kirkwood Gas & Electric, PacifiCorp, PG&E, SDG&E, Sierra Pacific Power and SCE.

For more information

California Public Utilities Commission
(800) 649-7570
505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 2003
San Francisco, CA 94102
TTY: (415) 703-2032

107 S. Broadway, Room 5109
Los Angeles, CA 90012
TTY: (213) 897-0426

Consumer Action
717 Market St., Suite 310
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 777-9635
TTY: (415) 777-9456

523 West Sixth St., Suite 1105
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 624-8327

California Energy Commission
(800) 555-7794

Center for Resource Solutions
(888) 63-GREEN

Electric Education Call Center
(800) 253-0500

The National Resources Defense Council
71 Stevenson St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 777-0220

6310 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(213) 934-6900

Utility Consumers Action Network (UCAN)
1717 Kettner Blvd., Room 105
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 696-6966

The Utility Rate Network (TURN)
711 Van Ness Ave., Suite 350
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 929-8876

Electronic publication funded by PG&E

Published / Reviewed Date

Published: April 01, 1999

Download PDF

No Download Available



Filed Under

Money Management   ♦  


© 1999 –2024 Consumer Action. Rights Reserved.




Quick Menu

Facebook FTwitter T